Despite its historic run, The Big Bang Theory has often been called problematic and 80 percent of that blame probably lies on Howard Wolowitz. The creepy and relentless aerospace engineer has often objectified women, made them uncomfortable and he fits the textbook definition of a predator. But he does go through some growth in the series, but fans have often talked about how his troublesome history as a manipulative pervert has never been addressed on the show in the right way.
To be fair, Howard does prove to be a loving partner and can be a trustworthy friend, and fans have even felt sorry for him at times. Let’s have a look at all the times Howard incited anger and pity among the fans:
Hated Howard: When He Made Penny Uncomfortable Countless Times
Howard noticeably stops making passes at Penny after he starts dating Bernadette, and this is obviously a very problematic depiction. Throughout the first two seasons Howard relentlessly makes Penny uncomfortable, publicly, and Penny has often had to leave the room just because Howard was present. This very disturbing pattern suddenly stops after Howard gets a girlfriend, which would imply that Howard wasn’t a predator but just lonely and the fandom has called out this weird inconsistency. Howard clearly has a history of sexual misdemeanors but after Bernadette comes into the picture the show barely addresses that.
Felt Sorry For Him: When He Gets Dumped
Being rejected by Leslie hurt Howard deeply because though he had often bragged about his no-strings arrangement with her, he obviously had feelings for her. Maybe he had envisioned some sort of a relationship between them in the future, and he obviously liked spending time with her.
But when Leslie unceremoniously dumps him over the phone in under a minute, he can’t seem to cope with it. In fact, he draws himself into a state of depressive detachment where he doesn’t even engage with his friends all that much and stalks Leslie on social media.
Hated Howard: When He Impersonated Raj On The Phone
When Raj had to call the girl his parents had picked out for him, he was not sure as to how he could manage that as he couldn’t talk to women. Howard calls the girl and pretends to be Raj and copies his accent in a rather derogatory way to ask her out. Howard has made jokes on Raj’s culture many times on the show, and most of them have been borderline racist. But making fun of someone’s accent is obviously not funny, to make things worse, he tries to steer the conversation in an inappropriate direction when he asks her. “What are you wearing?”
Felt Sorry For Him: When Penny Humiliated Him
To be fair, Howard deserved every bit of Penny’s open rebuke because he had been making her uncomfortable for a very long time and did not back off even when he was warned.
But when Penny finally decided to put her foot down and confront Howard bluntly and insulted him for being so desperate Howard, it shook Howard to his very core. He retreated within himself not talking to his friends for days, until Penny went to his home to apologize to him.
Hated Howard: When He Fought Sheldon Over A Parking Space
Though Howard and Sheldon both could share the blame on this one, Howard could definitely be a tad more sympathetic towards Sheldon. When Howard is assigned Sheldon’s parking spot because the latter does not have a car, Sheldon takes offense and forbids Howard to use the space. Since Howard is the one with the car, his problem was obviously bigger and ideally, he should have involved the authorities to sort the mess out instead of taking things into his own hands which led to an even bigger mess that also involved other people in their fight.
Felt Sorry For Him: When He Was Called Out For Talking Too Much About Space
Going to space is the biggest accomplishment anyone can ever have, and after Howard fulfills his dream and comes back home he simply wants his friends to shower him with attention for a while. This is not an unfair perspective, since going to space is a very big deal and Howard is justified to talk about the experience for quite a long time.
However, his friends call him out because he was making way too many space references and simply wouldn’t stop talking about his experience. Even Bernadette makes him feel bad about it, but the fact that he has to go back to the mundaneness of life after such an eventful adventure could take some taking used to, and no one really understood that aspect
Hated Howard: When He Embarrassed Bernadette Because Of Her Ex
Remember when Howard met Bernadette’s ex at a symposium and feels totally threatened and goes off on Bernadette? That was not just erratic but also quite humiliating for Bernadette especially as Howard implied that he didn’t understand how Bernadette could have dated someone so attractive and successful in the past. It’s common to be threatened by a partner’s ex, but to actually question your own relationship based on personal hang-ups is a major no-no. Plus, he even takes the issue public when he talks about it right in the middle of the symposium.
Felt Sorry For Him: When He Had To Move Out Of His Mother’s Home
Though he was constantly ridiculed for still living with his mum, one could see why Howard was anxious about leaving his mum alone, especially after she had a health scare. After his father left them, the two of them had been one unit and Howard’s mum relied on him a lot.
Despite the flaws in their relationship, fans of the show felt bad for Howard when Bernadette firmly refused to move in with Howard and his mum. And while Bernadette was well within her right to do that Howard’s problem deserved some thought too, especially as he was unhappy leaving his mum alone.
Hated Him: When He Made Sheldon Go Through The Absurd Tasks
Sheldon had been an atrocious friend to Howard, constantly berating him for not having a PhD and mocking him as an underling. So when Howard got a chance to work with Sheldon’s hero Stephen Hawking, he obviously saw this as an opportunity to torment Sheldon. He makes Sheldon go through some demanding tasks before he could lead him to Hawking, like polishing his huge collection belt buckles, going shopping with his mum, and even wearing a French maid costume to work. And though one could see why Howard would do this to Sheldon, he did get carried away.
Felt Sorry For Howard: When He Couldn’t Bond With Bernadette’s Dad
Fans have often commented on how it was physically painful to watch Howard try his best to connect with his father-in-law and failing. Bernadette’s father was clearly not a fan of Howard and though he didn’t hate him, he was distant and reserved and seemed to be in no rush to bond with his son-in-law. Now, Howard never had a father figure in his life and has often blamed himself for his father leaving home, and his anxiety of disappointing another father figure is quite relatable.